He's 17. NHL Team Just Sold $2.5M in Tickets in 2 Hours Thanks to Him

NHL's Blackhawks win draft lottery, aka the 'Connor Bedard sweepstakes'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2023 9:12 AM CDT
Chicago Sells $2.5M in Season Tickets in 2 Hours, Thanks to This Kid
Canada's Connor Bedard carries the Championship Cup after Canada defeated Czechia in overtime in the title game in the IIHF world junior hockey championships Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.   (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night won the right to pick first in the next NHL draft. In some years, that might not mean much. This is not one of those years, thanks to a 17-year-old phenom named Connor Bedard. To provide a sense, the Blackhawks sold $2.5 million worth of ticket plans in the first two hours of winning the draft lottery, per ChiSportUpdates. "We haven't stopped smiling, and the phones haven't stopped ringing," Blackhawks exec Jamie Faulkner tells Sportico, per Axios. Bedard, who has been on the NHL's radar since he was 14, is seen as a generational player along the lines of Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, or, for a more recent example, Edmonton's Connor McDavid.

"His ability to beat defenders one-on-one is among the best I’ve ever seen by a 17-year-old, and the pace at which he displays that elite skill is going to allow him to execute those skilled plays in the NHL," writes Corey Pronman at the Athletic. One oft-cited quote comes from current NHL star Nathan MacKinnon: "His release is one of the best in the world now ... at 17." The Blackhawks had a miserable regular season, and they went into the lottery with an 11.5% chance of getting the first pick, behind only Anaheim and Columbus. Making it all the sweeter for Chicago: They just parted ways with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, two aging stars who led the team to three Stanley Cups in the 2000s, notes the AP. (More NHL stories.)

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